We all know that maintaining the health of the brain is essential, but most of us are unaware of the holistic approaches to do so.
Aging does not necessarily slow down the function of the brain, and we can manage to boost our cognition, memory, and mental capacity in a natural way.
Mental sharpness can be achieved by leading a healthy lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet, rich in nutrients, such as vitamin D.
Neurogenesis, is the process of production of new brain cells, and it is now known to continue into adulthood too.
” … New neurons are integrated into functional circuits, and the ongoing neuronal turnover is significant for some functions,” researchers wrote in “Brain Aging: Models, Methods and Mechanisms.”
Vitamin D Deficiency Is related to Dementia
Scientists have found a strong link between the lack of vitamin D in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests, which is due to properties of this vitamin to protect brain cells and boost the effectiveness of the glial cells in restoring damaged neurons.
Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties also clear amyloid plaques in the brain. Vitamin D has powerful neuroprotective effects which drastically lower the risk of cognitive impairment.
One 2014 study involved 1,650 elderly adults and discovered that vitamin D deficiency is linked to a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
To diagnose vitamin D deficiency, one should do a blood test. Its levels should be at least 40 to 60 ng/ml (a more ideal level may be 50 to 70 ng/ml).
To optimize its levels, get sensible sun exposure or start taking vitamin D3 supplements, about 8,000 IUs daily. Yet, note that you should also increase the vitamin K2 intake as well.
Some beneficial bacteria strains positively affect brain health. The findings of a study conducted at the
University of California (UCLA), women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria via yogurt experienced positive changes in many brain areas, including the ones linked to sensory processing, cognition, and emotion.
The study by John Cryan, Ph.D., at the University College Cork in Ireland, found that mice without any microbes in the intestines were not able to recognize other mice around them.
He thinks that these microbes may communicate with the brain and help us be social, and their lack increases the chances for a “high-risk behavior,” and neurochemical changes in the brain.
Researchers found many genetic changes in the germ-free mice, and as explained in The Guardian:
“Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was significantly up-regulated, and the 5HT1A serotonin receptor sub-type down-regulated, in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus.
The gene encoding the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor was also down-regulated in the amygdala. All three genes have previously been implicated in emotion and anxiety-like behaviors.
BDNF is a growth factor that is essential for proper brain development, and a recent study showed that deleting the BDNF receptor TrkB alters the way in which newborn neurons integrate into hippocampal circuitry and increases anxiety-like behaviors in mice.
Serotonin receptors, which are distributed widely throughout the brain, are well known to be involved in mood, and compounds that activate the 5HT1A subtype also produce anxiety-like behaviors.”
Recently, one study examined the effects of probiotics on the cognitive function of 60 Alzheimer’s patients, and found that the intake of milk with probiotics led to dramatic improvements in cognitive function.
The ones who took probiotics experienced an increase in the average Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores, from 8.7 to 10.6, while the control group (which drank plain milk) had a decrease from 8.5 to 8.0.
The first ones lowered their triglycerides, fought inflammation, experienced beneficial metabolic changes, reduced low-density lipoprotein, and C-reactive protein, and had reduced markers for insulin resistance.
Researchers believe that the cognitive improvement occurs due to the beneficial metabolic changes.
The link between the gut and the brain was additionally explained by Walter Lukiw, Ph.D., a professor of neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease at Louisiana State University (LSU):
“This is in line with some of our recent studies which indicate that the GI [gastrointestinal] tract microbiome in Alzheimer’s is significantly altered in composition when compared to age-matched controls …
… and that both the GI tract and blood-brain barriers become significantly more leaky with aging, thus allowing GI tract microbial exudates (e.g. amyloids, lipopolysaccharides, endotoxins and small non-coding RNAs) to access central nervous system compartments.”
To add beneficial bacteria to the diet, one should increase the intake of fermented foods, like fermented grass-fed organic milk like kefir, lassi (an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, cucumbers, onions, eggplant, carrots, squash, and natto. You can also take a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Certain vegetables contain carotenoids, which are antioxidant compound most often found in orange produce. Yet, some of them, like lutein and zeaxanthin, are also found in dark green vegetables.
These tow boost vision health and prevent age-related macular degeneration. Moreover, scientists maintain that they also boost cognitive health by boosting neural efficiency.
One study, which involved 43 older adults who were asked to learn pairs of unrelated words while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), found that the high levels of these carotenoids were linked to the lower brain activity during memory tasks.
According to Cutter Lindbergh, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia:
“There’s a natural deterioration process that occurs in the brain as people age, but the brain is great at compensating for that. One way it compensates is by calling on more brain power to get a job done so it can maintain the same level of cognitive performance.
On the surface, it looked like everyone was doing the same thing and recalling the same words, but when you pop the hood and look at what’s actually going on in the brain, there are significant differences related to their carotenoid levels.”
The increased intake of foods that contain these carotenoids will prevent brain issues due to aging.
By making the right decisions, you can increase and boost the brain instead of leaving it to shrink, as it is not designed to fail due to aging.
To promote neurogenesis and the regrowth of brain cells, you need to address a specific gene pathway known as BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity.
Here are the most effective strategies:
- Lower the intake of carbohydrates, including grains and sugar
- Lower the calorie intake and try intermittent fasting
- Consume more healthy fats, like olives, organic virgin olive and coconut oil, organic butter from raw milk, free-range eggs, nuts like pecans and macadamia, organic grass-fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, wild Alaskan salmon, avocados, etc.
- Limit the intake of damaged omega-6 fats, and consume more omega-3fats. Krill oil is high in astaxanthin which is excellent for the health of the brain.
- Exercise regularly, as the physical activity supports biochemical changes that strengthen and renew the entire body, including the brain, and boost learning and memory skills.